Top hats: Irish women appreciate the value of a great hat
Photography by Peter Evers, Styling by Angela Scanlon, Fashion edited by Constance Harris
We in Ireland did not need a Royal Wedding, followed by a Royal Visit, followed by a US-President-and-His-Wife Visit, to appreciate the value of a great hat.
Irish women have always loved hats. It might have started with the Catholic church's edict that ladies' heads had to be covered in the house of God, but we made an art form out of that necessity.
Liberalism -- on all levels -- has decreed that this shining glory and expression of female flamboyance is no longer necessary in church, so in recent years racecourses and wedding days have become the hat lover's slender window of opportunity to show off.
But that has slowly been changing. Since the global downturn and emerging new sobriety, the hat has regained some social confidence and been making a comeback. We predict that 2013 will be its glory pinnacle.
Considering we are only halfway through 2011, though, the hat is doing darn good. Especially for Philip Treacy, who designed nearly all the hats in the royal party for Prince William's wedding.
Not since the camp and drama of the Eighties have hats been central to true personal style. But whereas generations in the past were educated as to what suited them, young women today have not had such an apprenticeship.
Let me explain. Although milliners will say there is a hat to suit all faces, I have found there are faces that find it hard to find a flattering hat. But, in the hands of a wonderful milliner, there can be salvation. A good milliner considers the shape of your face, the slant of your cheekbones and eyes, the balance of your mouth, your jawline and, yes, even your full physique. They are about all of you -- and showing that to your best advantage. This is why millinery was such a satisfying day's work for women when their social lives were restricted: a hat provides a challenge to get one's teeth into, as well as being a delight to decorate.
Linda McKay is one such milliner. She also teaches weekend courses that introduce ordinary people to the joys of creating a hat. The Grafton Academy, too, occasionally runs millinery courses.
There is a new generation of modern milliners who delight in their art, who can bring out everything from the charming cheek of a saucy face, through the tempestuous heart of a courtesan, to the noble nature of a monarch.
Witness some of their work on our pages today. Consider commissioning one for yourself and go on a voyage of self-discovery.
The hat is here to stay.
The Design Centre, Powerscourt Town House Centre, Clarendon St, D2, tel; (01) 679-5718
Bow Boutique, Powerscourt Town House Centre, Clarendon St, D2, tel: (01) 707-1763
Costume, Castlemarket, D2, tel; (01) 679-4188
Edel Ramberg, see www.edelrambergdesigns.ie
Eithne Horner, see www.eithnehorner.com
Michael Leong, see www.michaelleong.com
Martha Lynn, tel: (085) 777-1641, or see www.marthalynnmillinery.com
Photography by Peter Evers, see www.peterevers.com
Styling by Angela Scanlon, see www.angelascanlon.com
Assisted by Linda Conway and Karen Brady
Make-up by Searon McGrattan, see www.searonmcgrattan.com
Hair by Joe McGivern at Morgan The Agency, using Schwarzkopf
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